Horses for War

Ann Hyland

in The Oxford Handbook of Warfare in the Classical World

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780195304657
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Horses for War


This chapter examines the breeding and sustaining of warhorses. Horses refer to power in military and economic fields, and were sacrificed to the Sun before battle. Xenophon described the ideal warhorse. It was important for warhorses to have a good temperament. Some horses went willingly and repeatedly into battle. In war, horses would encounter camels and elephants, which were often employed in the armies of the east. Army animals could have lameness, injury, endemic diseases, and various common ailments. Puncture wounds were the most severe injuries in these animals. Tack gave the rider control over his horse and consisted firstly of bitting, secondly of saddlery. Seat security over horse could be achieved through a hard treed saddle with retentive front and rear horns. It is observed that some cavalry were armored, both men and horses.

Keywords: warhorses; battle; war; army animals; bitting; saddler; seat security; puncture wounds; cavalry

Article.  8420 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »